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Corus 08 r11: Sink or Swim

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We always hope for thrilling battles and do-or-die 'tude in the final rounds of big events, but too often we see players more afraid of losing than dying to win. Leader Carlsen has white against Anand today and black against Kramnik on Saturday. If he can Ulysses his way past the Scylla and Charybdis of the world's top-ranked players Carlsen will more than deserve a first place finish. It will be remarkable if +3 wins clear first in this event. Even if Carlsen hangs on, Aronian has white against van Wely and Ivanchuk and black against the erratic Polgar coming up.

I assume everyone saw Timman-Ljubojevic in the "Honorary" Group (please change the name to something more grammatical like the "Honors" Group next year) follow the 12.Nxf7 Topalov-Kramnik detonation of the day before. Ljubo played 17..Rhg8 and won a predictably insane game. Al Gore must be alarmed by the global warming implications of all the laptops in Wijk aan Zee overheating as they grind this line into dust. Will anyone try it again in the next few days? Official site.

Update: Wow, what a round! More fighting chess today. This tournament has already had more than its share of great fights, even though this was the first round we had as many as four decisive games. It was also Black Friday, especially in Group B, where Black won five games and lost none. It was 2.5-4.5 for Black in the A.

The big game in several ways was Carlsen-Anand. It was critical in the standings with Carlsen leading with +3 and Anand on +1. And it was a clear symbol with the 38-year-old world champion taking on the 17-year-old future champion. This one lived up to the hype when 1) Anand played the Scheveningen Sicilian (he'd been expecting 1.d4), 2) Anand's deep experience in this line on both sides betrayed him when he played 14..Bd7 instead of the immediate 14..e5 he played against Adams two years ago (!). But his knowledge of playing this line against Kasparov surely helped him navigate the complications. 3) Carlsen reacted aggressively, going for broke and giving up two queenside pawns to gain time for a direct assault against Vishy's king. If you play through it quickly it looks like Carlsen's attack just wasn't there, which may well be the case. But the astonishing speed and precision of Anand's play after deciding to take the pawns were, well, astonishing. He just kept banging out the moves as if they were forced, which, by the way, they weren't. 10 moves later Carlsen made the losing mistake 33.Qh7+?, although Black can play on after giving up his queen after 33.Rxf5. It wasn't easy, Vishy just made it look that way. Covering the game with GM de Firmian on Chess.FM we just couldn't believe he was making all these moves in less than a minute each. Coincidentally, just a few days ago I referred to Anand as "probably the best tactical defender in the history of the game." I'll put Magnus on the mailing list.

That put both players on +2 but Aronian avoided the creation of a leader logjam by beating van Wely convincingly to move into clear first with +3. Aronian won on the black side of this Slav line in round two against Gelfand. Aronian introduced the admirably blunt novelty 15.Rb1 and van Wely's reaction lacked snap in a very precarious position. It's interesting that the comps seem to like Black, probably due to the white king on e2. But the massive white mobile pawn mass is the real power in the position. Certainly White has a lot to prove if Black castles on move 22. Instead van Wely's king stayed in the center and Aronian took advantage with a strong exchange sac. The wonderful shot 26.Nd6+! led to a decisive lead in material and position.

Boris Gelfand looked like his old self for the first half of his game against Radjabov. The Israeli is a known KID and Benoni basher. He's always well-prepared, has a deep positional sense, and doesn't get lured into tactical messes when clarity is available. He build up a strong position with typical c-file domination. But Gelfand looked like his new self in the rest of the game, the self that has blundered frequently and lost three games without a win. He got his knight tangled up on c7 and made several bad moves in a row to reach a lost position just a few moves out of theory. 25..Rf3! was typical Radjabov alertness to unusual tactical chances. He gave Gelfand a reprieve when he misses the crushing 29..Nh5, when ..Nxg3 is an unstoppable threat. T/he Israeli was close to a survival swindle with 35.Qe7+ when instead he got mated after allowing the black king to stay on g5. Horrible.

Eljanov the qualifier got his first win of the event at Judit Polgar's expense. There are consequences to avoiding the main lines of the Berlin Defense. She must have expected it since it's a staple of the Ukrainian's repertoire, but White got a lame position right out of the box. Black had the bishop pair and the only quality break in the position with a running h-pawn. White had no play and didn't have much to do while waiting for Black to load up and crash through. It was an exciting round at the time, but truth be told there was some rather low-quality play in the A Group today.

Leko-Kramnik, Petroff, draw in 28. Sound predictable? Yes, but you should look at the game anyway. Kramnik once again displayed his awesome preparation, this time with a piece sacrifice that leads to a repetition draw against the white king. It ended fast, but at least it was exciting for a moment. Ivanchuk-Adams never heated up. Topalov-Mamedyarov reached a blocked position in which only Black could achieve anything. If White makes a move he could end up losing very quickly. Mamedyarov decided a draw was all right with him and declined to attempt to make use of the open g-file.

We're setting up for a big finale in the final round on Sunday, which sees Carlsen-Radjabov and Anand-Kramnik. Polgar-Aronian is the other key game. But to paraphrase Tarrasch, before Sunday the gods have placed Saturday. Kramnik-Carlsen is the big one. I'm not expecting much from Aronian-Ivanchuk despite a track record of fun games between them, but van Wely might tempt fate with white against Anand.

Movsesian still leads the B Group but Bacrot and Short both won to move up to within half a point. (Don't miss Bacrot's 31..Rb1!) Hou Yifan took another scalp by beating Sargissian with black. Caruana won again to take a full-point lead in the C Group.


And what a great chess conference by Ljubo on www.chessvibes.com

A great and highly sympathetic player!

i know you are a world famous writer and all that, but "honors" is a plural noun, while "honorary" is a prenominal adjective. "honors group" is therefore bad grammar.

and er, unlike temperature, grammar is not a continuous variable. A sentence is grammatical or ungrammatical. "[M]ore grammatical" is, ironically, not grammatical.

I agree, 'honors group' doesn't make much sense to me either, apart from being spelled wrong.

An hour in and Leko-Kramnik still going? Bit of a surprise.


It's a wonderful round. Kramnik shows that's "black is ok", Aronian got an ugly position but has spent almost no time so that's probably a preparation (getting your king stuck in the center, open the lines, get a lost position, create time trouble, reach move 39, 41, checkmate him).

rdh, it doesn't even look like it's heading to a 20 move draw -- Black's position looks very scary at the moment...


Vlad, sacrificing that Bishop -- it seems he came to play today... Nice.


I meant White position is scary -- sorry for the stupid triple posting...


Nice that both Anand and Kramnik set aside the match implications and came to play - Carlsen seems to have a dangerous attack going and Leko surely must have seen the sac coming.

sure, jaideepblue, Leko saw the sac, that's why he's down 0:35 minutes against 1:30 in clock.

Kramnik is losing

Holy cow, what is Kramnik doing?!

Well, my first impression is that Kramnik has a resignable position at move 23. Unless there is a miracle perpetual which I just don't see.

The Corus site live games applet isn't working for me today. Is there any alternate site for live games?


Umm... evidently, Kramnik and Leko found a perpetual.

jussu, I like the way you phrase it -- "they" found a perpetual. True to form, they're the first to finish. The game promised more at one point.


Heh heh..as said Leko saw it. And so did Kramnik :)
nice petit game.

To compensate for that, Carlsen-Anand is developing into a real humdinger. And Aronian seems to crash through with Nd6+

After 27..h5 Carlsen is apparently inferior and low on time. Two things in common with day before's situation. Then he was able to drag van Wely down into the time trouble whirlpool - can he do a repeat performance? Big difference is that Vishy (usually) is far better in TP.

Dimi, I only meant that I thought that white king could escape via d2, but the players saw that, for whatever reason, it could not. So they agreed to draw without playing out the variation which, for them, was obvious.

For the past hour Topalov-Mamedyarov has been like a bomb ready to detonate -- I'm not sure at what direction will the debris fly at the end...


Kd2 loses to Rd8+ Ke1/2/3 Qe7+ and either Rxd1 mate or Rf8 winning the queen, jussu. So Leko could hardly do other than accept the perpetual.

> I thought that white king could escape via d2, but the players saw that, for whatever reason, it could not.

If white tries 28.Kd2, he runs into 28...Rd8+ 29.Ke2 Qe7+ 30.Kf3 Rf8.

Btw, grammar boy - 'honors group' is fine. Check your OED...

Did Carlsen have to sac the knight?

OMG, Carlsen-Anand is exploding!!

Vishy must be having a quiet laugh. he played at full speed so must have seen everything.

Yup, Carlsen blundered on Qh7+...

carlsen going down. Vishy played like a computer..

According to the chessdom people anand must have "seen" from move 26 itself. Waiting for the postgame comments on what he would have done after 33.Rxf5.

Mig, any idea if Kasparov was watching? he would have appreciated the Sicilian!

That's a Black Friday... Cheparinov blundered too and is down two pawns to Black.


YES! It is black Friday, already 3 black wins in Group-A and 3 black wins in Group-B.

Magnus obviously doesn't read Mig's blogs. Or else he would have never tried all this against the "best tactical defender in the history of the game"!

Or maybe he does, and wanted to see for himself?!

I'm so glad I didn't have to brag on myself, Nair, cuz y'all know how I hate that. Wink, wink. Yes, funny that three days after I make that rather large claim Vishy backs it up by playing through that scary attack almost INSTANTLY ON EVERY MOVE after taking the second pawn. He used around eight minutes from 25..Qa5 to 36..Qxd5. Incredible. Finding largely forced moves under direct assault is something any GM can do, but to see it so deeply and play it so quickly that your opponent is the one in time trouble is Anand-only territory.

In the press conference/analysis Anand said he thought 33.Rxf5 was probably a forced draw. On Chess.FM Nick de Firmian thought Black could play on with his pawns and safe king but it went by pretty quick. Anand also showed around a dozen other lines in which he gets mated. Fun day, again. Great tournament, really fabulous chess almost every day.

"Black Friday" continues: 9-2 with Black pressing hard in several of the games going on (maybe over-pressing in two of them).

Just checked in and looked at the standings. Wow, how everything has changed with just two rounds left. You never know until you know...you know? =8-)

Mig, heading of your next thread ( analysis of round 11) has to be BLACK FRIDAY ( justified? isn't it?)

I'm so glad I didn't have to brag on myself, Nair, cuz y'all know how I hate that. Wink, wink. Yes, funny that three days after I make that rather large claim Vishy backs it up by playing through that scary attack almost INSTANTLY ON EVERY MOVE after taking the second pawn. He used around eight minutes from 25..Qa5 to 36..Qxd5. Incredible. Finding largely forced moves under direct assault is something any GM can do, but to see it so deeply and play it so quickly that your opponent is the one in time trouble is Anand-only territory.


-- Posted by: Mig at January 25, 2008 12:35

This defensive effort by Anand against the brilliant Carlsen is the very best defensive effort I have -EVER- seen.

Anand just saw everything, and he saw it faster(!) than Carlsen(!).

Just an unbelievably great performance by Anand.

Yep, Carlsen played with gusto, but the wily old veteran outfoxed him in a youthful manner. Great game, of which there have been many in this tournament with two more interesting rounds to go. Gotta love it!

Anand seems to have Carlsen's number for now. But huge credit should be given to the teenager for boldly attacking against one of the most horrific defenders and fast players. I am amazed at Anand's cool defense, as in my untrained eyes he seemed fried for a few moves. It's just a matter of time though, very little perhaps, before the balance swings totally in favor of the new guys. Great game, a total street fight...


C'mon guys, Vishy is not that old! As the man himself says whenever he mixes with the young set (Carlsen, Karjakin et al) he feels as old as a teenager!


It's just a figure of speech. I'm not sure where your from, but here in the U.S. your considered an "old man" in the NFL if you're in your early to middle thirties. The young guys like to tease us old timers.

well, according to anand's press conference, he was in an overwhelmingly inferior position and he thinks it likely that there is a forced win for white somewhere because he got "his wires crossed in the opening", so yes, dimi, your untrained eyes were right :)

I was hoping someone would ask Anand about the comp recommended queen sac 25..Qb3 Rc3 Bd5 Rb3 BB3. While Anand thought he was lost till he found Bg7, the queen sac actually gives him an advantage.

And ha! I thought Anand may try a Sicilian. Now hoping for the Anti-Moscow NxF7 against Van Wely. Would be cool if Kramnik and his second faced the same line with opposite colors. But I think it will be a queen pawn opening.

In the Petroff, Kramnik appeared lost but then came the perp because the Qa2 line looked bad for white's unactivated rooks. Clearly Kramnik must have seen the perp some moves before and that is why entered into the line. As always, Kramnik sees a clear path to an easy (for him) draw as black.

Can someone please bust the Petroff, so we can see some real chess from Vlady as black?

Tomorrow with white against Carlsen, I'm predicting the queens come off before move 20 and Kramnik has the better pawn structure or the Bishop pair and Carlsen has to sweat. 1/2 or 1-0.

Yes, a real test for Magnus tomorrow. With just two rounds to go the pressure is on, especially after dropping this one to Anand, and Kramnik has pretty much owned Carlsen up to this point.

Point of interest: With just those two rounds to go, Aronian is in the lead but none of us are talking about him? He's young too, but perhaps we are are already thinking of him as a veteran that's been around for sometime.

Speaking of age, I once read that the reason Alekhine wasn't invited to San Sebastian 1911, was because he was considered too young for such a strenous event. He was 19 at the time.

Does anyone else get the feeling that if Anand "got his wires crossed" in the opening as Black more often, he'd be rated 2850? He wins more terrible positions as Black than most people win good ones...

Right now I'm thinking Leko-Anand from Morelia last year... This was pretty much a repeat although the positions are totally different. Anand "maybe losing" for twenty moves and then teh opponent just resigns because they're actually dead lost and they realize it ten moves too late...

Anand needs to shake up his repetoire especially with black. It has become very boring and predictable. For someone who does so well in "fuzzy" positions it is weird how risk averse he has become.
Offtopic: Anand (and Sachin Tendulkar) get the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award.


"Anand (and Sachin Tendulkar) get the Padma Vibhushan..."

For whom is Svidler happier?

I think it's cool that the Group A leaders have all lost at least one game. This has been a fighting tournament.

In the press conference, Anand was highly critical of his Bd7 move blocking the Knight's square if White were to play g4-g5 and sure enough Carlsen played g4. Anand was forced to play e5 and move the bishop again to e6 to make room for the Knight to land in d7.

At this point, he thought White should be able to find a plan to win the game. Kramnik probably would have played a positional squeeze instead of mad attack.

I think Carlsen lost his advantage after 25. b3 and Anand thought the best he could do was a draw. Then in time trouble, (last 2 minutes?) Carlsen plays 33. Qh7+ instead of Rxf5.

During the post-mortem when Anand showed him Rf5, Carlsen simply shrugged off saying he missed it.

I get the feeling Carlsen saw the forced perpetual for Black against Rxf5 and thought he could find a winning plan with the more "promising looking" Qh7+. We will never know :-)

Jamie, are you _really_ predicting 1/2 or 1-0 for Kramnik with white?? That's quite a gamble!!

Anyone knows why Topalov resigned on move 46 ?

Carlsen is winning against Kramnik!


"Magnificent Magnus" strikes again.

Wow, I can't believe it, Carlsen beat Kramnik?!

Mig, the OED defines 'honorary' thus: "1. Denoting or bringing honour; conferred or rendered in honour." What's the problem with an honorary group?

Grammarboy and rd:
Lots of universities have Honors Programs; every year the British Sovereign announces an Honours List; why can't Corus have an Honors Group? Native English speakers have been using nouns in an adjectival sense for centuries, even when an adjective is available. I bet both of you do it from time to time. Mig writes quite naturally of women chessplayers, for example (see http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2004/04/georgia_on_my_mind_ii.htm), and right now everyone is considering the possibility of America's first woman president.

For a more scientific discussion of nouns as adjectives, see:

Sure, 'Honors' used adjectivally might mean something slightly different to 'Honorary'. But let's not bring grammar into it.

Correct usage is more than rules or the OED, it's also convention and comprehension. We don't use the word "honorary" for people or groups of people (specifically individuals in the group) but for the posts and titles that represent people. (Or, for a related but distinct meaning, for a title or post that isn't earned the way it usually is. "Honorary degree" or "honorary mayor".)

Since I doubt they mean to use that second meaning, Honors Group would sound far better than Honorary Group. Which is why most of the occurrences of that infelicitous phrase are regarding Corus, other clearly translated ESL sites, or used in phrases like "honorary group members" in the second meaning. And one rogue Denver Post writer. It also adds a complication because it's not clear if it refers to the group itself or the individuals in it. (I.e. the players on the red team aren't red. Is an award/title/etc. honoring the group or the individuals?)

Hey, how about that Magnus Carlsen! I'm on the way to Amsterdam in an hour, btw. Brewing some chess news in a few days, I hope. (Not hopefully.)

Whatever you want to call it, Ljubo won the it. He is the Honored One!!

You've lost me, Mig. Aren't those exactly the reasons why this is an Honourary Group and not an Honours Group? An Honours List, for example, is composed of people who are being given an honour, a specific concrete thing. This group is honourary an honourary tournament in the sense that, like, an honourary award or an honourary post, participation in it is being awarded for lifetime achievement rather than out of present qualification for it. (although frankly Korchnoi would be a more interesting participant in the B Group than some one could mention).

I thought of that, rdh, but we still don't use the word that way. Honorary GM, yes. Because of how we us it, an honorary tournament doesn't sound like an actual tournament. An honorary group sounds like they aren't a real group, whatever that would mean. And that's partly true, as you say, but it still sounds wrong because of the plural/singular thing. Anyway, I'll be for it if that's how they mean it!

Fun to watch Ljubo analyzing with Nunn and Seirawan. Lots of wild rook sac mating attempts by Ljubo that didn't seem to work out. It was like a high school flashback, if I had been on the chess beat and not in high school back then, that is. Aronian came by to kibitz and seemed to destroy most of Ljubo's hopes at mating black. Aronian and Topalov watched the Anand-Kramnik game together for a while, too.

From the horse's mouth at Corus, by the way: Shared first, no tiebreaks. Any tiebreaks will be by the Grand Slam people to find their qualifier (seems to be Aronian). I mentioned the official site said something about Anand winning on 2006 on tiebreaks when he was =1 with Topalov. They said that might have been the case (the tiebreaks) but it meant nothing as far as the tournament was concerned and that they actually made and delivered to Topalov another 1st place trophy. Which fits their long-standing policy. So Aviv might have been given wrong info in 2006, or he just looked at the tiebreaks and mentioned Anand finished ahead on system. Or maybe that's what they actually used to decide to whom to give the one trophy they had at the time, which sort of makes sense but could have been better explained.

I like discussing fine points of language, but through inane repetition, the words "honorary" and "honors" have been drained of all meaning in my poor overtaxed brain.

Let's just call them the Alter Kakers and be done with it.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 25, 2008 3:27 AM.

    Corus 08 r10: Carlsen Bounces, Ivanchuk Lives was the previous entry in this blog.

    Corus 08 r12: Snakes and Ladders is the next entry in this blog.

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